It’s four hours before the vernal equinox and the official start of spring in the southern hemisphere, but I’m inside a PnP Clothing store to hunt down a Springbok T-shirt. The store closes at six, but I still need to get chicken food.
“You’re the third person to buy that shirt in the last 10 minutes, what’s happening?”
“Were the other people also Coloured?”
“It’s Heritage Day dress up at school tomorrow, brown people don’t have many options.”
Why do I celebrate the vernal equinox and not 1 September as Spring Day? Because I prefer my commemorative days to have some degree of qualification. At the moment of the equinox the earth is 75 percent through its annual orbit around the sun and the southern hemisphere then begins to tilt closer towards or system’s star. That orientation makes the weather warmer.
That orbital path also means that this blurry image of the Sutherland night sky is actually a photograph of the Milky Way galactic core.
That image was shot on a Sony A7III – a R40k camera body – and a wide-open Sony FE 24-105mm G f4 lens (a R20k additional purchase) that I positioned on the windscreen of a car because a tripod is frowned upon when on holiday.
For contrast, my wife shot this handheld with an iPhone 12 Mini:
With a little bit of editing, I could get the iPhone shot at least into the same WhatsApp group as the big camera shot. This should underline why these modern smartphones cost as much as they do: because they deliver a lot of value in a very small package.
You pay for the convenience of being able to pull a snapshot of the sky that actually resembles the way your eyes saw it.
Just like my vaccine journey was not a tale of standing in a queue for half the day, but rather a process where I could book a convenient time and place and be done within 30 minutes. Because we pay for private healthcare and have the patience to go through the procedure to access the convenience.
I got vaccinated, and encourage others to also get vaccinated, because it isn’t the virus that puts you in hospital.
I ended landed in hospital after my body’s response to fighting off the virus was so intense that it left my lungs scarred and vulnerable to secondary infection. The vaccines train your body to only do what is necessary to defeat the virus and not destroy your body at the same time.
Heritage Day co-opted the Shaka memorial day celebrated in KZN and is meant to be a day that we celebrate our cultural diversity. I barely know anything about my cultural identity because I never asked enough questions when I was younger, and my mother was never by the means to take us to explore the town that her father came from.
I know that there are slave, Khoi and San branches to my family tree, but how do I represent that? How does South Africa deal with Coloured heritage?
The why here is what I get asked by my children. Why don’t I know. Why do I preach/teach a generic idea of humanity when their friends at school can recite creeds and have prescribed dress codes?
Because culture is fluid. I am starting from zero, and that begins with understanding that our human heritage is shared in the astronomical events like the death of stars. We are all made of the same base elements and a specific set of circumstances culminated in our development as a species.
Beneath all our wildly different believes, humans are all the same and so we should allow others the same freedoms to believe what they choose to, if it doesn’t impact on the well-being of others.
Asking why doesn’t give specific knowledge, but it unravels the interconnected details that shape an understanding. We should always begin with the why.